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Video Game Design and Music Education Part 1

by David Birrow Birrow.David@MacPhail.org

Here is a quick summary from Friday's Idea Exchange session about what video game design can teach us about music Education. This session will be repeated: Wednesday, May 14th, 11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. in Room 607

Why are games addictive:

  • They give multiple layers of objective feedback that range from granular to sustained competence to career
  • They appeal directly to our psychology needs for: Competency, Autonomy, and Relatedness

Why  games are good places for learning:

  • They let you try on different identities and make meaningful choices in those identities
  • They feed you challenges that are just challenging enough; not too easy or too hard
  • They give you information just when you need it and when you want it
  • They allow you to customize your environment 

Here are the presentation slides: 

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I think posing practice goals as puzzles is the key to a lot of motivation issues. The challenge is that most of music learning already has "necessary obstacles" built in to learning the skill. i.e. "The thing is already hard enough on it's own." But perhaps instructions like "how many times can you play that on the marimba with a metronome AND your eyes closed." That's an actual challenge I do with mallet students to build kinesthetic memory anyways.

re: Making Progress Visible is probably the most successful element so far. Breaking the content from method books down into categories helps to drive completion mechanics. Students don't usually pour over their Evernote notebooks but giving feedback during a lesson like: "You only have 3 more groove categories left in chapter 1 then you'll be 1/3 of the way done with this entire book!" Really help to give students the drive to finish sections. It's kind of like "I've already done all this other work, I might as well finish this section."

And even simpler is just checking off or circling completed material seems to drive completion mechanics too. I've been surprised how much that has motivated students.

Lots of food for thought!

Making me think more about student assignments; interested in learning more about the "puzzle" concept (slide 39).

Also curious what kind of success you're seeing with "Making Progress Visible" (slides 44/45)?

Thanks for this excellent presentation.

Great session David! I've been thinking about these concepts all week and trying to help my students devise ways to practice that are challenged-based with specific goals spelled out. I've been having great results. Thanks for inspiring some new ways of thinking about learning and teaching.